Okay, imagine you are sick at home and you need to call the doc to make an appointment.
You can hear other patients in the background, apparently they have a busy day. 🧑🏻🔧 🧑🏽🔬
You just told the receptionist your name and then you hear this:
„Ich habe Sie nicht richtig verstanden. Können Sie das bitte buchstabieren?“
(“I didn’t get that. Could you spell it out for me please?”)
Now’s your time to shine: Use the new German Buchstabiertafel!
It’s fairly easy to use. After each letter of your name (or your street, etc) you say “wie” (like) followed by the city that stands for the corresponding letter.
Toby - T wie Tübingen - O wie Oldenburg - B wie Berlin - Y wie …Ypsilon
No, Ypsilon is not a German city (there is non that starts with a Y), but it’s hard to confuse with other letters, so it is absolutely fine to just say “Üp-see-lon”.
The German B and W on the other hand can be easily confused, but it can’t get any clearer than “W wie Wuppertal”!
In the old Buchstabiertafel we mostly used Names. You might have heard somebody spell their name or address like this: “A wie Anton - B wie Berta, C wie Cäsar“, …
The problem with this is that names go out of style and may become unknown to newer generations. City names always stay the same!
So save this little cheat sheet to your phone, or print it out and put it on your fridge! It might come in handy the next time you have to spell something out on the phone!
Btw, wouldn’t this make a great bucket list for a round trip through Germany?
- Have you visited any of the cities you’d need to spell your name for?
- Do you use something similar in your native language?
- And have you heard of other tricks when it comes to spelling something out on the phone in German?